Let me first introduce you to the levels of parenting. Some time ago, I had the opportunity to engage some professionals during a specialized TRAIN-UP session and I introduced them to the four levels of parents. I’ll like to do so here as well.

  • The First Level is the Family Level of Parenting. This level is dominated by the biological parent, the adopted parent and the foster parent or guardians. These are the parents saddled with the primary responsibility of defining the value system through which a child must operate from. Wikipedia defines parenting as the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. So going by this, the responsibility of a seamless and wholesome transition from infancy to childhood, to adolescence all the way to adulthood lies on the shoulders of parents particularly the level one parents. This is a huge responsibility and as such, parents need the help of collaborators at the other levels of parenting however, the foundational principles guiding the child should be laid by the Level One Parent.


  • The Second level is the Neighbourhood Level of Parenting: They are the parents by communal responsibility. Parents will not always be everywhere but neighbourhood parents can be anywhere. Once an adolescent steps out of the home, he steps into the neighbourhood and can be engaged by a parent at this second level. These people are not necessarily parents themselves in terms of having biological or legal children, even though they can be parents, but they step into the office of a parent by carrying similar parenting values and they will ensure that adolescents are in adherence to these values even in your absence. I remember during my  National Youth Corp  Service year as a fresh graduate serving her nation, a young boy passed by my side sagging. I called him back and engaged him. For those of you who don’t know what ‘sagging’ is, it is a dress sense adopted by adolescents mainly where the males pull their trousers below their waist in order to expose their boxers. In Nigeria, it automatically communicates that the child is an irresponsible one even if that might not be the case. By the time we were done conversing, he understood that his dress sense could make a positive or negative statement about him and he pulled up his trousers before he left. It could be something as simple as correcting an erring adolescent.

There was an adage in Africa that used to be potent many many decades ago. I do not know how potent it is anymore. That proverb says, “it takes a village to raise a child” The Neighbourhood parents are in the similitude of the Village used in the adage. On a lighter note, I remember a particular afternoon, my mom was working at home and I kept pestering her with questions. I do not recall those questions but I was persistent. I kept asking and asking to the point where I frustrated her. Then she sent me to our landlady to go get arodanand I happily dashed out. Very good girl. As soon as I told our landlady what my mom asked me to bring, she asked me what my mom was doing and I told her so she asked me to check a particular place for this arodan. I did. She told me to shake up those places in my search and scatter whatever I needed to just so I could find it. I had no idea what I was looking for but when I found something out of the ordinary I’d show her and she’d tell me, “Tope it looks like this one but it’s not it. Check again” When I had completely made a mess of the entire place and scattered everything, she asked me to re-arrange them. For about an hour or more, I rearranged. When I was done, she showed me another spot to search for this arodan I searched till I got tired. Then she sent me back home to tell my mom that I couldn’t find it. I didn’t realize until many years later that arodan meant “nothing”. It’s just a futile search quest that parents use on their errant children in Yoruba land whenever they want to get such children off their hands. When anyone receives the arodan message, they know their job is to detain such children with different tasks that should last for at least an hour, before sending them back home. However, with the level of depravity in our society today, the level three parents are becoming scared and community life is fast disappearing, sadly.

  • The Third Level is the Professional level of Parenting: These are the ‘parents’ with a defined responsibility such as Teachers who function in schools to tutor your adolescents in a particular course, School Counsellors who give guidance on academic problems understanding your adolescent’s learning needs and blocks, Pastors and Imams who are responsible for giving guidance on spiritual matters, etc. The level three parents have the specific job of teaching the adolescent in specialized ways that are peculiar to their offices. But they also rely heavily on the level one parents and build upon the value construct of the children entrusted into their care. In the event of a gap in level one parenting, usually identifiable by the absence of morals and values, they can step into the Office of the Parent to redefine the value construct for the adolescent.

The Office of the Parent is an important position because the level one parents will not always be everywhere. They need collaborators who will step into this office to become PARENTS to their children. Only those with similar value systems can ascend that office seemlessly.

  • Emergency Level of Parenting: We call them the Parent-in-Emergency. They are also professionals but the distinction is that they do not have regular interaction with the adolescent like the level three parents. With a high Awe-Q, the adolescent typically shouldn’t need such parents frequently until they need care in order to attain, maintain, or recover optimal health and quality of life. We find them in caregiving environments like hospitals, counselling homes, etc and their role is mainly intervention. They step in when the other levels of parenting are unable to prevent the adolescent from reaching a crises point. So these parents are required for emergency intervention in times of crisis. Doctors, Nurses, Psychologists, Psychotherapists, etc. you might be wondering how a nurse for example can stand as a parent, right? This was something the nurses I spoke to in a specialized TRAIN-UP session also wondered and I can encapsulate the answer with the story of Anabel. Anabel lost her mom when she was just 9 years old. Her dad was the one driving so he blamed himself for his wife’s demise. In his grief, he stopped catering to his daughter and became a major bully. He would beat her at the slightest provocation and even send her to bed many times without a meal. Anabel was a bright student and no one suspected she was having challenges at home. She had mastered the art of keeping a poker face. She had also learnt to take care of herself lest she starved. Exactly five years after her mom’s death, her dad came home drunk to stupor. She had this feeling of danger lurking around her so she ran to her room and shut the door. She just cowered by the bedside in fear. Then her dad began to scream, “Anabel where are you?” His voice sounded deadly but she still couldn’t move, paralyzed by fear. When he said, “Anabel if you do not come out now, I will kill you” that was when she rose up to open the door because she knew he meant it. That wouldn’t be the first time he had attempted such but this sounded even more intense. As the door flung open, he landed a slap across her cheek making her fall to the floor from its impact. As she fell, her gown went up and her thighs were exposed significantly. That was how he pounced on her and raped his own daughter. That was the beginning of many episodes until Anabel landed in the hospital one afternoon while she was returning from school. It was found out that she was pregnant but a pregnant 14-year old was not going to be left to wander all by herself. So, the nurse on duty asked about her parents but Anabel was so rude. The nurse in response to her behaviour cut her off and concluded that Anabel was definitely a promiscuous teen. Now, to be fair to the nurse, she was also having a bad day. She had just found out that her husband was cheating with her best friend and she’d been kicked out of the house that morning.

Her things were still at the hospital because she was kicked out as she prepared for duty. So having to deal with a rude and promiscuous [in her own understanding] adolescent was not on the agenda. Anabel snuck out of the hospital eventually because she couldn’t deal with such a judgmental nurse as well. When she got home, her dad came, as usual, to rape her only that this time he met with his untimely death. You see, Anabel knew he would come like he always did and hid a kitchen knife under her pillow. As soon as he climbed her, she stabbed him endlessly then stabbed herself. It was the screaming a neighbour heard that made him rush to the house but by the time he got there, her father was dead but she was still alive even though she had cut a major artery. By the time she got to the hospital, she was dead. The nurse on duty recognized her immediately and wondered if the outcome could have been different if only she had stepped into the office of a parent.

This story portrays the influence that all the other co-parents can have on the adolescent and how they can wield this influence to support the level one parents. The parents in all the other levels, that is from levels one to four, are called the collaborators and that’s because they work with you to parent your adolescent.



“Try to see your child as a seed that came in a packet without a label. Your job is to provide the right environment and nutrients and to pull the weeds. You can’t decide what kind of flower you’ll get or in which season it will bloom.”

— Anonymous

Adolescents will always seek autonomy. It’s perfectly normal. The terms of engagement must change.

As parents, we often find ourselves sometimes fighting between our minds and our hearts when it comes to relating with our adolescents, thus making parenting seem like balancing on a tightrope. This is because we are aware that one inappropriate response can dampen a child’s spirit, whereas the right response helps it soar. Each moment in our parenting journey presents us with the opportunity to make or break, to nourish or suppress, to correct or to connect, to be conventional or unconventional.   Having spent much time researching and consulting with experts, we have some parenting tips to help you keep the communication lines open with your adolescent and reduce the challenges of the teenage years.

    1. Don’t Feel Rejected by Their Newfound Independence. During adolescence, they tend to withdraw from their parents and rely more and more on friends, but parents often mistake this withdrawal as rejection. Your child is establishing his or her autonomy and making the transition to adulthood. So, this is not about you. It is about their need to discover themselves and learn the ropes of adulthood which is often signified by independence. Studies have found that excessive monitoring by parents was not effective in preventing teen lying or teen alcohol use. That’s because teens lie more when their parents are overly controlling. 


    1. Release Your Children from the Need for Your Approval. By tying our teenagers to our approval, we bind them to us without realizing it, making them slaves to our perceptions of them. If we continually deny them our approval or constantly require them to depend on it, we will lead them astray. Can you imagine how it must feel for a child to be starved of our approval and fearful of our disapproval? Imagine how different this must be from knowing they are accepted and honoured unconditionally. Many adolescents have gone astray desperately seeking approval from parents as have many because of being starved of it. Adolescence is a phase of personality shaping and identity consolidation. By helping our adolescents grow into their own entities, their very own person as handed them by the Grand Organized Designer, you empower them for life to stay confident in themselves.

Release your children from the need for approval or the lack thereof. Let them learn to be driven intrinsically as that is the only way they can become wholesome adults of the future

      1. Don’t Be Overly Judgmental. We all make mistakes. But when we do, we must learn to first forgive ourselves, understanding that we were well-intentioned, and then let go of the matter. We also want our friends to forgive us if we offend them, understanding that we were well-meaning, and let it be. We should also introduce these elements into our parenting approach to our adolescents when they make mistakes. They are at a phase of life where words can easily shape them or break them. Mistakes should not be viewed as something to latch on to and perpetually punish the perpetrator, rather they should be viewed as opportunities to learn. Isn’t this how we want to ‘critiqued’ when we make mistakes too?


    1. Nurture Your Boy’s Emotional Side. Our male children are increasingly being conditioned by culture and society to “be a man” and as such, they are gradually losing touch with their emotions. This is extremely dangerous. By hiding their emotions, they are prevented from learning the art of proper communication. This lack of communication makes it tough to navigate conflict. When you can’t work through problems, they’ll probably keep happening repeatedly and that’s not good. Society says that anything that has to do with real feelings; love, sadness, vulnerability, is girly, therefore bad. Of course, this is not true but while awareness is ongoing to change that cultural perception, it is critical that the home becomes a psychologically safe haven for your sons where your boys are encouraged to be sensitive and vulnerable at home, while at the same time acknowledging the reality that those traits might not go over well at school.


    1. Grow Your Girl’s Self-esteem. The rates at which our teenage girls are uncomfortable with their body image is scary and alarming as it’s one of the leading causes of suicide. As a mother, you have to model body acceptance. Set a good example.How you accept your body and talk about others’ bodies can have a major impact on your teenage daughter. If you are a single father, you need to get a mother figure in her life who would model this to her. It could be her grandma, a counsellor in your place of worship, a mentor, a teacher, any female with the same values as you that she could look up to, will do just fine. Also, do not raise her as a ‘people pleaser’. It is one of the most damaging things to do to a daughter because she then grows into a woman without a voice.  Encourage her to stand up for what she needs and wants. Create opportunities for her to use her voice. Ask her what she wants and let her make that choice to honour that choice. Help her build skills that are independent of appearance.

These are just a few of the many tips to parent a teenager. Feel free to write to me at tbog@tsageandtbog.com and don’t forget to leave your comments below. What else do you feel that parents of teenagers should do?


The first of four courses in the TRAIN-UP series has been launched! If you want to know how to train up your adolescent not to deviate from family values or how to raise a 21st -century teen/tween using unconventional parenting tools and DIY approaches to everyday parenting scenarios, then this course is for you!!! You will be taken on an evolutionary mindset shift that will foster the nurturing of an open and friendly relationship between you and your adolescent. What’s more? All through the duration of the course, you will have access to real-time counselling sessions with TBOG! To know more about this, click here…



“I see no hope for the future of our people, if they’re dependent upon the frivolous youth of today. For certainly all youth are reckless beyond words. When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and be respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise––otherwise known as disrespectful, and impatient of restraint.”

Hesoid, 700 BC (A Greek Poet)


People have been complaining about adolescents for centuries. For example, adolescents can be a problem for the future of our culture if they continue the way they are. Parents worry about teen pregnancy, being disrespectful to their elders, and things like being unable to control their impulses. All of these things have been a conversation about adolescents apparently since the beginning of time. But we say to ourselves, “don’t worry, each generation turns out just fine” then these adolescents, in turn, complain about the coming generation once they attain parenthood. The cycle continues. It is partly true that each generation turns out right. In the sense that each generation complains about the next but somehow, they find their footing. But there has been an obvious decline in outcomes over the decades. Our adolescents are no longer turning out fine! A publication from the American Psychological Association among others sounds the alarm over the significant increase in mental health issues among adolescents in the past decade. It is no longer okay to assume your adolescents will mysteriously turn out fine with time. Time does not heal, time only reveals. In the same way that we do not assume that an injury will turn out fine without adequate care since it could become gangrenous, so also should we end the assumption that we can be erratic with our parenting and hope for the best. Because in the end, they do not turn out fine!

So, what is adolescence exactly – how do we define it?

We can look at it chronologically, basically just an age which people tend to define as the teenage years between 13 and 19. You can also look at it biologically, using physical markers or physical changes to mark the onset and offset of adolescence. For biological definitions, it starts at the pre-pubertal height spurt, which precedes puberty and ends when people reach full reproductive maturity, which would be around 15-18 years. Or, you can define adolescence in terms of society. The sociological definition would be the timeline between the onset of puberty, the biological markers of puberty, and ends when adolescents assume adult responsibilities. That would be things like leaving home, being able to support themselves, maybe owning a house or a car, or having children, maybe having a job, all of those kinds of things. Some of these definitions can be fairly narrow in time.


The chronological timespan is just six years, but if you take the sociological definition, adolescence could be considered to be 10 or 15 years. For example, if a child doesn’t leave home and take on adult responsibilities until they are around 27 years old.


Puberty is usually an awkward time for our little humans. As parents, we should never forget what it was like for us. It’s what makes us empathic towards the confusion they many times are unable to verbalize. The only saving grace during this weird time is the fact that we must all suffer through it. Somehow, we have to work out a way to come to grips with all the physical changes – and that’s the first task adolescents have to deal with. Puberty alters body size, shape and functioning.


One of the first markers of puberty is a growth spurt. Boys and girls both, tend to grow about six centimetres per year right until they hit their growth spurt. Then their growth increases. For girls, they start to grow about eight and a half centimetres a year for a couple of years, and boys grow about nine centimetres a year for a couple of years. That results in a pretty rapid change in height for children.


I remember my adolescence; I was growing so fast that people found it difficult to believe that I was just twelve years old. I was around 168cm in high school, that’s quite tall for a 12-year old. I was always embarrassed when I stood among my peers because I always stood out! Some of these changes, particularly growth spurts, can happen so rapidly that it’s uncomfortable for children. And on top of that, they have to figure out how to control and move around in a body that is getting very tall and has change proportions.


For girls, it happens a little bit earlier than boys. Girl’s puberty starts earlier than boys and ends earlier than boys. On average, girls start their growth spurt at about 11 years, whereas boys don’t really start to see their growth spurt until 13 or 14 years. This is why when girls hit their growth spurt, girls are often a full head taller than their male peers – because the boys don’t hit their growth spurt until a few years after the girls do.


Adolescents have a lot to deal with. There are a lot of changes that happen during that period, and they have many things to master before they can go on to be adults. One of the things that adolescents have is to come to grips with is all the physical changes that are happening to them—it’s easy for adults to forget how weird it can be when you’re in the middle of it. They also have to find their own adult identities—some sort of identity that they’ll take on as an adult that’s separate from who they were as a child, separate from their parents. They have to learn to manage their emotions and grow their moral inner compass. Finally, they just have to learn to simply to survive. It turns out to be a little bit more difficult than you would think.